Center for International Development
25 Years of Achievement
By Carol Olechowski
n the 25 years since its founding, the State University of New York’s Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) has had several homes within the SUNY System. But one constant has remained: its mission of “Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development.”
Based at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy since 2007, SUNY/CID combines knowledge with the practice of government and policy-making to aid foreign countries in strengthening and developing their legislatures. SUNY, UAlbany and Rockefeller College resources; field offices on five continents; and links with donor agencies, local and national governments, institutions of higher learning, and other partners have enabled the center to merge projects with a government-focused research agenda. As a result, SUNY/CID has implemented more than $200 million in international development projects over the past quarter-century while forging strong relationships with legislative bodies around the globe.
CDF CONFERENCE Hon. Amarnath Pradhan, India, MP; Hon. Qamar Zaman Kaira, Pakistan, MP; Dr. Mark Baskin, SUNY/CID; Hon. Delroy Chuck, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jamaica; Dr. Nelson Kasfir, Dartmouth; Dr. Harry Blair, Yale
“We’ve had a great impact,” noted M. Monica Bartoszek, the center’s outreach coordinator. “We’ve developed a really solid reputation for the work that we do, legislative
strengthening and other projects in Bolivia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and many other countries.” SUNY/CID training, Bartoszek said, is comprehensive,
encompassing “everything from HIV/AIDS education and computer training to learning how to organize public hearings for parliamentary committees.” Projects range in
duration from six months duration to 10 years.
The "many scholars, both staff and visitors," Blakeslee has encountered "have taught me a great deal and have shared eye-opening firsthand perspectives on development work."
Through internships, UAlbany students like Emily Blakeslee, B.A.’11, participate in SUNY/CID’s work. The Binghamton, N.Y., native credits the experience with “inspiring me to pursue a career in the international nonprofit field, specifically focusing on improving the lives and circumstances of women and children.”
Now studying for her M.P.A., Blakeslee, 21, began her internship in September 2010. In the year since, assigned to the home office in Albany, she has “updated our Web site, reviewed financial reconciliations, done all types of research, helped coordinate travel plans, worked on document management and assisted with media outreach. With each task, I learn something and gain a new perspective and understanding of the work we do at CID. I have been able to take theories I learned in a classroom and apply them to real people and real situations.
SUNY/CID Senior Associate Mark Baskin, a research professor at Rockefeller College, has managed parliamentary strengthening projects in Iraq, Serbia and Jordan and contributed to projects in Afghanistan and Kenya. Baskin, a Fulbright Fellow in Yugoslavia in the 1980s, had several other fellowships in the Balkans, and worked for the United Nations as a peacekeeper in the 1990s and later at a peacekeeping training center in Canada. Attracted to SUNY/CID and Rockefeller College because “I thought they brilliantly lend a practical, pedagogical and academic approach to international development and diplomacy,” he is currently directing a comparative research project on constituency development funds (CDFs), “policy tools that enable Members of Parliament to play a role in assisting in service delivery in their constituencies in more than 20 countries, including
Kenya, Uganda and Bangladesh.”
Study tours, like this USAID-funded Promoting Democratic Institutions and Practices Project (PRODIP), jointly implemented by SUNY/CID and The Asia Foundation, offer an upclose view of U.S. legislative practices and an opportunity to speak with constitutional experts. Here, a group of members of the Parliament of Bangladesh mingle with students outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 100-plus SUNY/CID projects implemented in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East over the years, observed Baskin, “have dealt with strengthening the capacity of the legislature to serve as a constructive partner in government, economic development, environmental projection, the strengthening of civil society, the
deepening of rule of law and good government, among other things.”
At any given time, Baskin added, “eight to 12 interns and student fellows help us with our work. They acquire analytical tools and skills that help them establish careers in some aspects of international affairs, government and post-graduate studies, and in the private sector. Former interns have found jobs in Congress and in the executive branch of government. Others have gone on to complete professional and academic programs at graduate schools.”
For information about upcoming events commemorating SUNY/CID’s 25th anniversary, please visit the center’s Web site. Search internship opportunities at www.cid.suny.edu.